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The Outsider’s Guide to the Philosophy of Whitehead, Part 2

The Outsider’s Guide to the Philosophy of Whitehead, Part 2

Whitehead’s formulation of prehension could be one of the most important discoveries ever made by a human being, for it has the potential to totally transform mankind into what Nietzsche called Übermenschen. These are the ones who are neither masters nor slaves, who are adepts at self-discipline and self-realization, who do not lord it over their fellow humans, but bring wisdom and peace to the earth. This is what humanity may look like in the next stage of human evolution….

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Religion and the Rebel, Conclusion

Religion and the Rebel, Conclusion

  Wilson now turns to Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), perhaps the greatest intellectual of his era. Time will tell if he will be recognized as the greatest thinker of the twentieth century. The sublimity of his thought is unsurpassed for his day and time. The only one that comes close, perhaps, is C.G. Jung. Wilson has a high regard for Whitehead, mostly because Whitehead began his career as the “typical abstract philosopher.” He “gradually rejected ‘abstractionism’ until he became one…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 21

Religion and the Rebel, Part 21

  Finally, we have arrived at the last chapter of this book. It’s been a long road. I have learned much from Colin Wilson. He has been a great inspiration to me this year. Even though he has passed from this world, the spirit of his work lives on in his over one hundred books. The Outsider and Religion and the Rebel have been outstanding studies for me. I have branched out from mainly doing articles on depth psychology to…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 20

Religion and the Rebel, Part 20

There is one more play that needs to be dealt with, in light of the Outsider philosophy: Back to Methuselah. For a general summary of the play, see Wilson’s commentary on pages 279-283 of Religion and the Rebel, or read the Wikipedia article here. Wilson does not view every act of the play as valuable. He sees the last act, As Far as Thought Can Reach, as one of Shaw’s masterpieces. We will concentrate on it. This part of Shaw’s play…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 19

Religion and the Rebel, Part 19

In Tanner’s dream, Dona Ana de Ulloa (resembling Ann Whitefield) comes to converse with him, and is soon joined by the Statue from Mozart (symbolizing Ann’s deceased father), and Mendoza as the Devil. In the dream, Tanner is his ancestor, Don Juan. The conversation that ensues, Wilson says, is “the greatest scene in Shaw, and one of the pinnacles of English literature.”1 Dona Ana is under the impression that heaven is a place of happiness. She tells Don Juan, “I…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 18

Religion and the Rebel, Part 18

  In one of his finest plays, Bernard Shaw unabashedly presents his Outsider philosophy in Man and Superman. Shaw initially planned to write a play about the legend of Don Juan, except that he switches things around and makes the woman, Ann Whitefield, the seducer. Wilson makes an interesting point about this: . . . the truth is that the higher form of life will always be chased by the lower. The woman with elements of greatness will always be…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 17

Religion and the Rebel, Part 17

  Everyone is ill at ease until he has found his natural place, whether it be above or below his birthplace. . . . Besides, this finding of one’s place may be made very puzzling by the fact that there is no place in ordinary society for extraordinary individuals. . . .1 This is the experience of all Outsiders. The youth of the extraordinary individual is usually fraught with trouble and misery until, at some point, he or she discovers…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 16

Religion and the Rebel, Part 16

Wilson’s comments, so far, have been merely a prelude to discussing Bernard Shaw. He wants us to understand what he means by an “existentialist,” who is “the artist-philosopher,” the one who has the ability to “use his will power in analysis, and yet at a moment’s notice to become completely negative, transparent, and receptive.”1 The literary climate of the existentialist is the “Bildungsroman,” the so-called coming-of-age novel or play, where the protagonist’s psychological and moral development is the focus. Dostoevsky’s…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 15

Religion and the Rebel, Part 15

Wilson’s book is almost complete, but there are few more thinkers he wants to discuss, one of the most important being the great Irish playwright, critic, and polemicist, George Bernard Shaw. Wilson explains that, for himself, Shaw’s reputation will increase with time, until it is seen that his position in relation to Western thought is as important as that of Augustine or Aquinas to mediaeval thought. For me, the Outsider is the symbol of the whole problem of Western civilisation…

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Religion and the Rebel, Part 14

Religion and the Rebel, Part 14

I began reading Søren Kierkegaard around 1990. I was part of the online community called GEnie back then, GE’s answer to Compuserve. We had a good group of thinkers there and we discussed philosophy and religion constantly. I had just recovered from two very painful back surgeries; I was on disability at the time, so I had plenty of time to read and write online. This is really where I fell in love with philosophy, and ultimately where I discovered…

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